Aim: This was a service development study to explore the role of orthoptists in the process of breaking bad news in an out-patient setting and develop provision of education and support for orthoptists carrying out this role.
Methods: A questionnaire was adopted following a similar study conducted in 2007 in an in-patient setting. The original questionnaire was developed using Likert scales and open text questions. Data collection took place in 2010. Nine out of 14 (64%) distributed questionnaires were returned.
Results: Orthoptists engage in diverse activities that involve breaking bad news at many points in the patient care pathway. Little formal education or support for this work had been received.
Conclusions: Guidance for breaking bad news should encompass the whole process (before and after the immediate news-breaking) and acknowledge the challenges orthoptists face. Developments in education and support are required that reflect the challenges clinical staff encounter in the out-patient care setting.